Blood On The Tartan

Romance - Historical
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 04/07/2009
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

Blood On The Tartan is a enchanting romance, the tale of one woman uniting her people.  The setting is the Highlands of Scotland 1854.  Catherine Ross is one woman uniting her people to stand together against those that cared more about the money sheep would provide than the lives of the common people.  Catherine was only a child when her family and friends were evicted from their homes.  The owners tore down the homes and leased the land to sheepherders.  Catherine stayed in the Highlands while friends and relatives moved to Canada.  She married a British soldier.  He died in India and left her to raise their son alone.  She realized how lonely she was when she met Constable Ian Macgregor.  Their love slowly blossomed.  When Catherine witnessed once again the greed of landowners, she determined she would find a way to stop them.  Ian’s emotions and sensibilities were in conflict.  He was sworn to uphold the law, but he loved defiant Catherine.  He had a decision to make…Was their love strong enough to survive?

Blood on the Tartan is based on actual historical events.  The plot demonstrates the honor and resolve of the Highland people.  The Scottish inflection is a little difficult to decipher at first.  Once I got into the rhythm of it, I enjoyed the book.  I have never been to Scotland but have it at the top of my wish list.  Chris Holmes transports his readers to the past.  He carefully explains the events that unfold on the pages.  Holmes has increased my desire to see the Highlands, to hear the brogue with my own ears.  Holmes conveys the atmosphere of an era unsurpassed in history. Holmes captures the essence of the Scottish culture.  The Scottish citizens were never known to back down from a fight.  They stood their ground regardless of the threat of death.  Blood On The Tartan reminds readers of a blood era in history.  I suspect Chris Holmes has deep Scottish roots.  His passion for the country and the history shine through in his text.  Holmes provides the reader with secondary characters that are appealing.  I became so involved in this book I felt as though I was reading about dear friends.  Romance, history, drama--what more could a reader ask for?

J. A. Schneider

If you have a Scotsman in your family or in your heritage, you should read this book! The story is an authentic account of the brutal Highland clearances and a love that thrives in the midst of it. The storyteller evokes the enduring qualities of the Scottish countryside and its people. The Highlanders are hospitable, affectionate, and intelligent with a wry sense of humor that carries them through difficult days. I'm sure you will enjoy their story.

Jo Webnar

Historical romance is not my normal read, but I had heard about "Blood on the Tartan." The book definitely didn't let me down. Not only is it well written, but thoroughly researched. I found myself enjoying it and couldn't put it down. "Blood on the Tartan" not only entertained, but educated as well.From now on, I am not going to judge a book by its genre. I give it 5 stars.

William E. Howden

Dr. Holmes has penned another captivating book, this time an historical romance. It has the same kind of plot-driven style used in his other books, which brings you swiftly into the story and does let you go until you have finished. As I rushed through the book trying to find out what happens next, I had to make myself slow down to take the time to enjoy the lovely descriptions of the Scottish Countryside. There are several things that make this novel stand way above the thousands of romances that are churned out every year. It is based on a personal story of Dr. Holmes's ancestors and is factually based on an important and tragic era of Scottish history. It is well written, with a poignant and tender account of the personal story and a wise and balanced treatment of the history. An epilogue is included that recounts the associated period of Scottish history, giving readers a deep appreciation of the story they have just read. It is a book for anyone, but those of us with a Scottish ancestry will especially appreciate this moving and insightful glimpse into the past. In addition, it is simply just a good read!

jean harrington

Although the potato famine of the 1840's has garnered more worldwide sympathy than, perhaps, the Scots Clearances of roughly the same period, Chris Holmes brings to mind a sad page in Scottish history that should not go unnoticed. With greed and ruthless determination, the landowners of the Highlands evicted the farmers who had tilled the land for generations, sending them off to futures of dire poverty and exile in order to turn the pastures over to more lucrative sheep herding. Lifting the truth from the cold pages of history, author Holmes creates Catherine, a true to life heroine, who resists every attempt at intimidation and fights eviction from her ancestral home with all in her power. In Catherin, Chris Holmes has created a heroine worthy of the name. Bravo!

Gerri Bowen

Blood on the Tartan is a lovely, lovely romance. Set mostly in the Highlands of Scotland of 1854, the author's use of the values, morals and the unsettled times propel and explain the troubling clearances. As the title implies, there is bloodshed. Whose blood it is on the tartan, and when the bloodshed occurs, are questions that keep you turning the pages.
As a child, Catherine Ross witnessed her family and village evicted from their homes, so the homes could be torn down, the land leased to sheepherders. She remained in Scotland, eventually married and had a son. Her husband enlisted in the British army so they could meet their rent. He died in India. She does well on her own with just her son. Family is near in the village. She is still young though, and when the new constable, Ian MacGregor, introduces himself, she realizes how lonely she has been. Love slowly builds between the two. At the same time, Catherine sees signs the evictions are coming closer, this time to her village. She will not allow that to happen again. Enough of the Highlands has been depopulated of people, only to be populated with sheep. As constable, Ian is torn between his feeling for Catherine and wanting to protect her, and his oath to uphold the law. He fears there will be a showdown, and he doesn't know which side he'll take.
The author has done his research, and the book is enjoyable, not a history dump. For a reader in 2008, it can be difficult to understand many actions of the past. Unless you're a history buff, or deep into all things Scotland, the clearances sound unreal. The author explains the clearances, the reason they began, why they continued, and the terrible effect they had on the population of Scotland.
As I said, Blood on the Tartan is a lovely romance. It's also disturbing because it's based on things that actually happened, and some of those things reflect the dark side of mankind. The author is a medical doctor, and his description of wounds was thorough, which made them all the more heart-rending. That said, I recommend this book to all. The sensual level is on par with Lynn Kurland, a big plus with some. Catherine's moral values were refreshing, and rang true. The descriptions of birds and fauna were familiar to me, which I liked. The other characters and side plots were engaging, and at the end of the book they were like family and I wanted to know what happened to everyone. Some of my ancestors were from Scotland, and very probably arrived In South Carolina because of being forced out. For that reason I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book, but I'm glad I did. Blood on the Tartan is very enjoyable.


Chris weaves a wonderfully colorful tale of highland lasses and lassies in his book Blood On The Tartan. I enjoyed how he tells about a rich but sometimes very brutal time in history. The heroine Catherine Ross lived through the First Writs of Eviction, rebuilding her life in the Scottish Highlands, while what is left of her family leaves for Canada .
Ten years later it is happening again. In comes the new constable, Ian MacGregor, who has been sworn to uphold the law... but, he finds himself falling in love with the beautiful Catherine. Will he follow his heart and make a stand against the evictions, or will he do the duties he has been sworn to uphold?

Erin Hatton

Chris Holmes weaves a bittersweet tale worthy of a clan storyteller against the backdrop of the Highlands of Scotland. The year is 1854 and the economy of the Highlands is shifting -- from tenant crop farming to sheep farming. And sheep need room to graze. Landlords all over Scotland are "clearing" their tenants in place of four-footed clansmen, and the lord of Strath Carron is no different.

Catherine Ross is no stranger to the Clearances. Displaced from her childhood home, she made a life with her husband in the village of Greenyards. Now a widow, she has only her son and her home in the valley of Strath Carron, for generations her family's place.

Ian Macgregor is a constable newly stationed in Strath Carron. Idealistic and full of faith in Victorian justice, he acquaints himself with the villagers of Greenyards, and the attractive young widow Catherine.

Their growing sweet romance will be put to the test when the Clearances come to Greenyards. Catherine urges her neighbours to resist the unjust evictions, while Ian is trapped between his love for her and his duty to uphold the law.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read -- the characters are vibrant, bringing to life all the emotions and motivations behind the tumultuous period of the Highland Clearances. Chris Holmes has a true bard's voice.

Erin E. M. Hatton
Author of "Counterpoint" in Romance Upon a Midnight Clear